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Thursday, 25 February 2010
Page: 1197

Senator SHERRY (Assistant Treasurer) (12:49 PM) —in reply—I thank Senator Joyce for his contribution to the debate. This is an uncontroversial piece of legislation. It will amend the Commonwealth’s consumer credit legislation to ensure an effective referral of power from the states to the Commonwealth in relation to consumer credit. As senators may be aware, last year the government enacted legislation to implement phase one of the national consumer credit reform package, delivering on the Rudd Labor government’s commitment to modernise Australia’s consumer credit laws.

This credit reform package will, for the first time in Australia, provide for a single standard national regime for the regulation of consumer credit, replacing the state based regimes which operate inconsistently across eight jurisdictions. It is a landmark reform and has only been possible through the strong commitment of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, working in a spirit of cooperation to realise the COAG’s reform vision for a single uniform national credit law. This was evidenced by the signing of the intergovernmental National Credit Law Agreement by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in December last year, and by a commitment of all governments to commence the national credit law at the same time later this year.

With other legislation, this represents the final move of state regulation of financial services, consumer credit, trustee companies and, interestingly, margin lending, which is a state responsibility. There has been a good deal of controversy about margin lending in the context of Storm Financial, and I pay credit to some of Senator Joyce’s colleagues who have been active in focusing attention on that. This is the final transfer of the remaining powers of the states in respect to fin-ancial regulation to the Commonwealth and, as such, it represents an important final chapter—a single standard national regulation.

This bill amends the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, the credit act, to recognise certain exclusions to the scope of the amendment power in the referral bill and to enable an effective reference of state power to be made either with or without any exclusions to that power. I thank Senator Joyce for the Liberal-National Party support of the legislation. I commend it to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.